26 September 2016

24 Jul 2013

Shipyards told to take greater responsibility for paint job defects


MatthewsDaniel staged a special forum ‘Paints & Coatings – Managing Expectations’ in conjunction with the Superyacht Events Agency at Lloyd’s of London's Old Library, bringing together the superyacht and insurance sectors to debate the problems that arise in the very arbitrary domain of paint jobs.

Ed Hillier, Chair for the evening, acknowledged that every party involved in a project has a view on where culpability for a poor job lies and an open discussion forum was a good opportunity to exchange those perspectives and explore solutions.

As Winterbothams’ director of project management, Simon Burt, explained, owners rarely know what they want implicitly, and it is the responsibility of the owners’ representatives to “advise on the risks associated with each course of action”, and invite all technical experts involved in the project to pool their knowledge to reduce the potential for error.

(from left to right): Simon Burt, Ken Hickling, David Durston, Ed Hillier, Will MacLachlan, Costas Frangeskides and Bryuno Saverys.

This was echoed by both Will MacLachlan and Costas Frangeskides of law firm Holman Fenwick Willan, who emphasised that competent contract formulation could play a key role in managing the expectations of the owner from the outset. MacLachlan warned that most build contracts do not delve into the minutiae of paint quality, so an effective solution could be to appoint a technical specialist to outline those requirements at the contract stage.  And in the event of a dispute, under English law, Frangeskides said that evidence of damage needs to be evident, and it is the task of the claimant to refute the factor of “inevitability”.

Holman Fenwick Willan's Will MacLachlan addresses attendees.

These points all centred on the fact that shipyards find themselves heavily protected against liability, when compared to the owner, subcontractor or underwriter. Captain David Durston said he had been appalled in the past by the “greed of some yards in the Med when it comes to paintwork”. This was reiterated by Awlgrip’s Ken Hickling. Whilst conceding that product defects were sometimes responsible for failures, he felt the problem invariably lay with the “application rather than the applicator”, highlighting the variable conditions under which a project takes place, and the yard’s control of those variables. “Yards should expect to assume greater responsibility as the prime contractor”, Hickling said. 

(from right to left): Bruno Saverys, Costas Frangeskides, Simon Burt, Ken Hickling and David Durston.

The forum concluded, fittingly, with the views of Helvetia’s Bruno Saverys on possible solutions. Representing the interests of the most exposed party – the underwriter – Saverys came to the rather logical conclusion that defects could be easily circumnavigated by all parties agreeing on the appointment of an independent arbitrator at the beginning of the project. Such a process would avoid accusations of vested interests, and as an encouraging conclusion to the day’s discussion, is a realistically implementable process.

Ed Hillier chaired the event.

MatthewsDaniel would like to thank everyone that attended as well as the Superyacht Events Agency, WB Media and our colleagues at Matthews Daniel for their support in making the inaugural Superyacht Forum a success.

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